Counting on roasted chicory's local appeal

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International trade European union

US-grown roasted chicory is not expected to rise in price when trade tariffs are lifted in March, says its sole US supplier, because the pull of locally-produced food remains strong.

Roasted chicory root is ground and used as a coffee substitute, either on its own, or blended together with coffee. It had been subjected to a 100 percent tariff as part of a World Trade Organization (WTO) trade dispute in 1998, but it will now be exempted, effective from March 23 this year.

The only supplier of roasted chicory in the US is the Nebraska-based firm US Chicory.

Its founder and president Dave Hergert told “Competition is always good…Everyone benefits when there is fair and open trade between all developed countries.”

Local appeal

He also stressed that he thought the appeal of locally produced chicory would keep the company competitive, even in the face of increased imports from Europe.

“There is a certain amount that has continued to be imported into the US, but we make a very high quality product and we are local producers; all our customers are within two days of us. I don’t think this is an issue for us at all.”

The tariffs were first imposed after a trade dispute about a European Commission (EC) ban on US beef which had been subjected to certain growth hormones.

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body found that the EC import ban contravened its obligations, as the ban resulted in almost all US beef being disallowed.

As compensation, the DSB allowed tariffs to be applied to certain EC products in order to recoup the estimated $116.8m of resultant losses.

Hergert said he was unconcerned about the possibility that prices could be depressed if more roasted chicory entered the US market.

He said: “All the commodity prices have increased, so I don’t think prices will fall… But we would like to see the EU drop the tariffs on US imports.”

Hergert would not reveal how much chicory US Chicory supplies, although according to the company’s website, it grew 800 acres last year.

In addition to roasted chicory, the USTR removed some fresh or chilled onions and shallots from the list, as well as paprika, dried tomatoes, oats, and sugar confectionery cough drops.

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